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Big Maple Heads to the Big Apple

We finally got our first huge move of the offseason (sorry, Mike Zunino!) as the Mariners traded James Paxton to the Yankees for Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson, and Dom Thompson-Williams. I’ll save the analysis on Swanson and Thompson-Williams for Kiley McDaniel because I can honestly say I was unaware of both prior to the deal. Here is Kiley’s piece and Jeff Sullivan’s piece, which includes analysis of both (and Jeff’s has full analysis on the deal). I’m going to focus on the fantasy impact for Paxton and Sheffield.

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What Went Wrong: Brian Dozier

Brian Dozier entered the 2018 season as one of the most stable power-speed options in the game. Among the 17 players with at least 50 HR and 50 SB from 2014-17, his 194 HR+SB placed him fourth behind only Jose Altuve (226), Mike Trout (216), and Charlie Blackmon (204). He only hit .254 during that four-year run, but 2016-17 were his two best seasons during the run and he actually hit .269 in those two seasons.

In 2016-17, Dozier had also shown a severe first half/second half split. In the two first halves, he had a .244/.331/.433 line compared to a .298/.369/.619 in the second halves. I mention that because it definitely bought him some leeway when he meandered through the first few months of 2018. He had just a .692 OPS a week into July, but rallied a bit just before the break to end the first half at .738 with 16 HR and 5 SB in 414 PA.

He couldn’t stay hot coming out of the break, but then he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on the July 31st deadline. He opened with homers in each of his first two games as a Dodger and put up a .308/.438/.769 line in his first week of play (32 PA). I can’t imagine I was alone in thinking that was the beginning of his perennial second half surge.

Narrator: It was not.

He wouldn’t hit another homer for two weeks and ended his Dodger run with a .154/.268/.256 line after that first week. All told, he managed just a .182/.300/.350 in LA and .215/.305/.391 for the entire season. His 21 HR were a five-year low and his 12 SB were tied for the same. I can’t find a lot different within Dozier’s profile to account for the fall off. In fact, I can’t really find any tangible differences that would yield any sort of drop, let alone the cratering we saw.

Plate Skills
Year PA K% BB% SwStr% O-Swing% Contact
2016 691 20% 9% 9% 29% 79%
2017 705 20% 11% 9% 23% 78%
2018 632 20% 11% 8% 23% 79%

His plate skills were literally identical. There was absolutely no movement of consequence in his strikeout, walk, swinging strike, chase, and contact rates. I’d have expected to see something different in these skills when his OPS fell 160 points. Let’s take a look at his batted ball profile:

Batted Ball Skills
Year LD% GB% FB% IFFB% HR/FB% Soft% Med% Hard%
2016 16% 36% 48% 13% 18% 18% 47% 35%
2017 19% 38% 43% 13% 17% 16% 50% 34%
2018 17% 40% 44% 17% 11% 17% 46% 37%

OK, we actually see a real change here. And no, it’s not the infield flyball rate. The 4-point jump there just isn’t that impactful. His 32 infield flies were a three-year high despite a three-year low in flyballs, but even if you give him the 2017 infield fly rate, it’s a difference of seven pop-ups. Give him hits on all seven of those and he’s still only at .228 so it’s not a crazy change. The HR/FB rate is where we see something.

The 6-point drop from 2017 to 2018 is worth about 10 homers. Even getting 5-6 of those would’ve helped his bottom line. One other major difference I didn’t put in either chart was his BABIP. I didn’t include it because it’s not as skill-based as the other aspects I chose to highlight, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his 60-point tanking down to .240!

The infield flyball rate explains some of the BABIP drop, but there seems to be some plain old bad luck involved, too. There just aren’t enough changes in his profile to account for that kind of fall off in BABIP leaving me with little else but bad luck as a major culprit. I’d say maybe he played through some undocumented nagging injuries, too, but then why wouldn’t any of his major skill indicators show it?

I’m eager to see where Dozier lands this winter. I think his price tag will remain around his #2EarlyMock ADP of 85 and I’m buying there. I’m seeing something like .250, 25 HR, 15 SB and there’s still .270, 35, 20 upside with the SBs depending on his landing spot (hopefully he goes somewhere open to stealing).


The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 616 – Happy Birthday, Justin!!!

11/16/18

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 19, the best baseball strategy game ever made – available NOW on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms! Go to ootpdevelopments.com to order now and save 10% with the code SLEEPER19!

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PitcherList Mock Draft (#PLExpertsMock) – (2:30)

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 615 – Fireside Chat: #PLExpertsMock Review

11/15/18

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 19, the best baseball strategy game ever made – available NOW on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms! Go to ootpdevelopments.com to order now and save 10% with the code SLEEPER19!

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PitcherList Mock Draft ()

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My NFBC Draft at the Arizona Fall League: Rounds 9-23

Last week I wrote up the first 8 rounds of my NFBC draft from the Arizona Fall League and I did say rounds 9-23 would come on Wednesday… it is technically Wednesday so even though I clearly meant last Wednesday, let’s count it. It’s not like I didn’t write in the meantime, I did profiles on David Dahl (here), Harrison Bader (here), and Ronald Acuña Jr. (here), so feel free to check those out, too. At any rate, it’s time to finish up this draft recap so let’s roll!

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Breakout Breakdown: Ronald Acuña Jr.

Ronald Acuña Jr. won the NL Rookie of the Year on Monday evening. That isn’t much of a surprise, but the fact that he ran away with it was kind of shocking. I didn’t see a major difference between Acuña and Juan Soto and could’ve truly seen the award going either way, so I was a little taken aback when Acuña nabbed 27 of the 30 first-place votes.

It wasn’t always a foregone conclusion that Acuña would be a ROY frontrunner this year as he had a .779 OPS in 129 PA before a left ACL sprain shelved him for a month. He took off when he returned, meeting and even exceeding the lofty expectations placed upon super-prospect. His numbers in the 82 games post-injury were probably good enough for the Rookie of the Year on their own and it’s why he has surged into the top 20 of early 2019 drafts.

Acuña put together a blistering .304/.380/.589 line with 21 HR, 51 RBI, 59 R, and 14 SB in 358 PA. Pace those out to a full season and you’re looking at 42-101-117-28. I’m not saying you should pace those numbers as a 2019 expectation, but rather I’m just showing how insane he was over the second half of the season.

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Breakout Breakdown: Harrison Bader

When tonight’s NL Rookie of the Year award is announced, Harrison Bader’s name will be mentioned in passing, if at all. The finalists are Ronald Acuña Jr., Juan Soto, and Walker Buehler so guys like Bader, Brian Anderson, and Jack Flaherty will likely only get a hat tip for their seasons before the winner is crowned.

In late-August, Jeff Sullivan did a great job highlighting Bader’s case for ROY based primarily on his excellent defense. That piece is definitely worth a look as Bader finished with 3.5 WAR, just behind the 3.7 that both Acuña and Soto logged, but I’ll be looking at his season from the fantasy angle and looking ahead to 2019.

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 614 – Ian Kahn Returns!!

11/12/18

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 19, the best baseball strategy game ever made – available NOW on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms! Go to ootpdevelopments.com to order now and save 10% with the code SLEEPER19!

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 613 – Paul Cries About a Twitter Poll

11/09/18

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 19, the best baseball strategy game ever made – available NOW on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms! Go to ootpdevelopments.com to order now and save 10% with the code SLEEPER19!

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Half Season Heroes: David Dahl

David Dahl first appeared on prospect lists back in 2013 as a top 60 entrant across the industry. Injuries limited him to just 10 games that year so he fell back to the bottom 30 on lists, but then inched back up for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, settling firmly in the top 50 before expiring his rookie status in the summer of ’16. He was again cut down by injuries for almost an entire season when he played just 19 games in 2017. He found his way back on the MLB roster this year in late-April, but again found himself bit by the injury bug as a fractured foot ate up two months in the middle of the season.

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